New legislation could make it easier to prosecute child sex offenders

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SPRINGFIELD – A bill is scheduled to be heard by the Illinois Senate’s Criminal Law Committee that would remove the statute of limitations for felony criminal sexual abuse and sex crimes against children.

Statute of limitations restricts the time during which authorities can charge someone with a crime.

The legislation is being introduced by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and was prompted by last week’s developments involving former Republican U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Hastert admitted in court that he sexually abused teenage boys when he was a wrestling coach in Yorkville.

In court last week, Judge Thomas Durkin noted Hastert avoided serious consequences because of the current statute of limitations in Illinois’ state courts.

Under current law cases similar to the charges brought against Hastert, victims must report cases of abuse within 20 years after they have turned 18.

Bennett says victims should have the option to wait until they are ready to confront their abuser.

“We shouldn’t reward people who are lucky enough to not get caught. Often victims of abuse take some time to find the courage to address these horrific crimes,” Bennett explains.

Senate Bill 3402 would remove the statute of limitations for felony criminal sexual abuse and sex crimes against children, which allows for prosecution of these offenses at any time.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate’s Criminal Law Committee on Wednesday, May 4 at 9 AM in Room 400 in the Capitol building.

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